Throughout my life I have lived with many different roommates. From my adventures in Germany, where I stayed with people from Japan or Denmark to my domestic experiences at Duke or summer camp, I have lived with people from a variety of cultures and backgrounds. However, while no two roommate relationships are ever the same, none can compare to the bond I have established with my Vietnamese roommate, Tinh. Never has every facet of my life been so intertwined with another person. From ordering food, to controlling class, to simply explaining the various cultural intricacies of Vietnam, Tinh has been a comforting shoulder and a close friend every day in Quang Tri.
I believe that a key reason for my close relationship with Tinh is our weekend excursions. So far, Tinh and I have traveled together to Dong Ha City, Danang, and his hometown of Hue. During these adventures, Tinh has taken me from the glistening Perfume River that flows through Hue to the endless towering mountains that overlook the seaside city of Danang. From these experiences, I am now convinced that Vietnam is a paradise that every person should visit at least once in their life.
However, as my time in Vietnam comes to a close I have recently become quite disheartened about my inevitable goodbye with Tinh. I will return to Duke and the chaos that surrounds the life of every Duke student, and Tinh will return to Hue University for his final year of language courses. Our lives will diverge as sharply as they collided together.
I recently brought up these musings to Tinh over a goat dinner during a quick one-night pit stop before our bus to Danang. As the restaurant bustled with life and the smell of cooking meat wafted through the air, I explained my current melancholy over my future departure. Tinh remained quiet for a bit before looking me in the eyes and saying:
“Today is today. Tomorrow is tomorrow.”
He went on to explain to me that I should not be sad about the future. If I were to spend my final weeks in Vietnam disheartened about an inevitable departure, then it would only taint the remaining time we had together. Instead, I should enjoy the moment, which at that time was savoring the delicious goat in front of us.
Though some days have passed since this exchange, I have tried to maintain this mentality as my time in Vietnam draws to a close. Rather than grow upset about leaving my students or saying goodbye to the many amazing people I have met in Vietnam, I should instead savor every day I have left. As cliché as it sounds, as I end my two-month adventure in Vietnam, I am going to try and savor every moment. Especially if it is as delicious as cooked goat.
Picture from my independent travel with my roommate Tinh. We are overlooking the seaside city of Danang.
The goat dinner with Tinh and his friend Ri before our bus to Danang.